Live and Let's Fly has been silent the last three days as I weighed how I wanted to cover what happened to me on a United Airlines flight from Newark to Istanbul last week. The situation was both traumatizing and highly embarrassing and I wanted to ensure that I had ample time to consider what transpired before hurling any accusations or failing to understand the other side. But frankly, the more I replay the incident in my mind, the more certain I become that I was wronged. Here's my story: Last Thursday I was scheduled to fly from Newark to Istanbul on United's direct flight. The 767-300 was outfitted in a two-cabin configuration, staffed by a legacy United crew, and I had been upgraded to business class. It was my first time on this reconfigured aircraft and my first longhaul in the Continental BusinessFirst seat. Naturally, I wanted to provide a review for you.
As I settled into my seat, I pulled out my iphoneto take a few pictures of the seat. When I held the phone at forehead level to take the picture below, a flight attendant came running over and told me that I could not take any pictures of the cabin. She referenced this section of the Hemispheres magazine:
As startup prices soared in the runup to last year's Facebook IPO, entrepreneurs, investors, and tech observers sometimes griped about lofty valuations.
Just mention Foursquare, say, or LivingSocial, and they'd go off.
These are tech companies that snagged a lot of press and tens (or hundreds) of millions of dollars before solidifying their business models. Investors say they're worth tons of money—but in the end, that's a gamble, and the companies may actually be worth nothing.
After a few years of massive hype in the startup sector, absurd-sounding valuations are starting to correct themselves. Startups are confronting the prospect of raising "down rounds" from investors—or rounds of financing that value the companies at less than the previous round.
LivingSocial, for example, was once valued at $5.7 billion; it's now worth a quarter of that, or less, depending on whom you ask.
Fr. James: I enjoyed reading Paradise Commander. I know from personal experience that writing a book is quite an amazing adventure. What inspired you to write a book about your own personal conversion?
Al Hughes: While commanding Antigua Air Station, West Indies, so much happened, often humorous, I often said without real intent, "I could write a book!" As my conversion began with a flood of miraculous events, "I could write a book" began to take hold of my life. From time to time I wrote notes and snippets, drafted chapters; established a chapter sequence that kept changing on me. The manuscript was a long time coming. In retrospect, Paradise Commander could not have been completed without the insights gained in my religious calling: my post- Air Force 25 year avocation as a lay catechist and retreat master.
Fr. James: In the preamble of your book you write, "It was no surprise that from the ripe old age of 14, I declared myself an agnostic." Can you explain to me and to our Catholic Online readers what it is like to be an agnostic? What goes on inside the soul of someone who claims to be an agnostic?
HAMILTON, ONTARIO, CANADA (Catholic Online) - "Ecce homo," "Behold the man!" These were the words spoken by Pontius Pilate when he presented a scourged Jesus Christ to a hostile mob shortly before his crucifixion. The same words aptly apply today to Pope Benedict XVI, as he is being held up to unprecedented ridicule and scorn by some members of a hateful press and misunderstood in a world out of touch with its spiritual nature and moral being. One can almost hear Jesus saying to the peaceful and benevolent pope: "If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first" (John 15:18).
Pope Benedict XVI's decision to abdicate the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, comes at a time when there is a ferocious battle going on within the Catholic Church and a rising tide of hatred towards authentic Christianity from outside. The pope has had to endure much in his heroic efforts to steer the Barque of Peter away from the errors and influence of the progressives, atheists, and other dissidents.